Did you know that more germs are spread from shaking hands than kissing? (Check out: http://www.science-facts.com/quick-facts/amazing-human-facts/ and http://www.independent.ie/health/health-news/dont-shake-hands-itll-be-safer-just-to-kiss-1710134.html!) Scientists say this is because our hands have contact with much more bacteria than our mouths.
That said, I am probably one of the most germ-conscientious people I know. In fact, I once took years off from shaking people’s hands. Ever since I started again, the last few years, I have gotten a very bad flu every six months or so (including the swine flu in 2009). I’m not implying that all these flus were from infected hands, but it’s just interesting.
Sunday, my current flu-with-bronchitis-mixed-in-just-for-fun turned three weeks old. I am ninety-nine percent sure I got it after a handshake-gone-awry. I touched my eye a moment later, then heard the handshaker let out one of the worst coughs I’ve heard in a long time. I was about to go wash my hands and eye, yet the guy insisted he was not sick. The line for the bathroom was very long, so I believed him. Silly me. Why couldn’t he have just kissed me instead?
More and more often in the last few months, I will be at an event and meet someone new and they’ll shake my hand, followed up by a few coughs and a variation of the line, “I’m trying to get over this cold.” Um, then you shouldn’t have shaken my hand or the other 101 in the room. I also think a lot of people mistake having a cold for allergies; but when in doubt, keep your hands to yourself.
When I’m sick and someone tries to shake my hand, I tell them I have a cold/flu/what have you and ninety-nine percent of the time, they thank me for letting them know and quickly retreat their arm (as well as take a few steps back). (Once in a great while, someone will say they need some sick days at work and beg me to shake their hand, but even then I refuse!)
If someone still wants to shake my sick hand, so to speak, like the nurse at the CVS Minute Clinic* last week, so be it. (She immediately washed her hands afterward.)
So I’m asking each of you for a favor. If you’re sick, don’t shake people’s hands (not even at church during the Peace be with You). You may feel rude for not doing so, but take it from me – it’s better than getting your friend sick. (And don’t forget about karma!)
Aside from taking medicines and trying to be patient (since there is no real cure for the flu, just things to alleviate the symptoms), I’ve been drinking a TON of homemade garlic or ginger tea. (Luckily, I am still cat-sitting, so don’t have to fear getting a couch host sick. Hopefully, the cats will be fine!)
What kinds of potions – drinks/foods – do you make when you’re sick?
Here’s more reading on why handshakes should stop: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2047048/Its-deal-lets-touch-elbows-Health-expert-urges-ban-shaking-hands-prevent-spread-flu.html and http://protectdontinfect.com/germ_facts.asp.
*By the way, this was my second time visiting the CVS Minute Clinic and I cannot say enough positive things about the experience (aside from the fact that I was there for the above). The nurse was friendly, knowledgeable, no lines to wait in, etc.